Friday, July 20, 2012

The recent eruption of another significant Maori resource issue - water rights - provoked by the government policy of partial-privatisation of four NZ energy companies. The case provides a nice comparison to how the mainstream NZ reacted to the Foreshore and Seabed case a decade ago.

My own iwi, Tuhoe, will be watching with interest as we claim Waikaremoana whose waters run through several hydro schemes. As I often say, we can korero about our waters in terms of myths and legends, but we can also incorporate cumecs and megawatts, dollars and cents.

Joshua Hitchcock has a dissection of the Maori Council's actions:

"The NZ Māori Council have done Māori a great disservice in bringing this particular claim and linking in to the partial sale of State-Owned Enterprises in the manner that it has. By linking this claim to the keystone legislation of the Government’s second term, it was always doomed to fail. The Māori Council is a body desperately searching for relevance amidst the rise of independent Māori political bodies and the more representative Iwi Leaders Group. It no longer speaks with the authority of Te Ao Māori behind it, instead it appears to have been captured by the specific interests of Titewhai Harawira and Donna Hall. It speaks volumes about the strength of their case that the Iwi Leaders Group, a body comprised of the elected leaders of Iwi throughout Aotearoa, refused to support the claim and instead preferred to continue negotiation with the Crown around water rights."

Morgan Godfrey has a comment on the several Maori organisations variously engaged or marginalised by the current National-led government. I've attended several Federation of Maori Affairs (FOMA) hui (and hope to get to this years AGM as well), and like many others am somewhat in the dark about the Iwi Leaders Group (ILG). That the government's approach follows in a long line of colonial 'divide and conquer' approaches makes it no less palatable to Maori.

The usual smokescreens are blowing across the battlefield, including taniwha and a pay dispute

No Right Turn is typically scathing of John Key. While I think history will treat Key badly ('It's the economy, stupid...') he has played this with great Machiavellian aplomb. He's 'stood up to Maori' on the one hand, while quietly dealing with the corporate-focused ILG on the other, ensuring the planned share offering can go ahead with at least some Maori 'agreement'. 

Of course, Maori who oppose this strategy may yet go to the courts, in which case all bets are off!

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